Former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce believes Wayne Rooney still has plenty to offer Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.
The 31-year-old hasn’t made a Premier League start since September 18, and wasn’t even included in the match-day squad for Man United’s defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.
Rooney’s recent descent down the first-team hierarchy has led to several reports of a potential move away from Old Trafford, with China serving as a possible next destination for the Englishman.
However Bruce, speaking on TalkSPORT insists Rooney can still make a valuable contribution at United.
“You just have to look at his goalscoring record to know that he is up there with the very, very best the world can offer.
“I think Wayne has been a bit unfortunate. They have chopped and changed him around too often. Play him in his position as a centre-forward and he’s guaranteed to get you goals.
“He has always produced if you play him in the top end of the pitch, but because people have used him in different areas I think he has suffered from that a little bit.
“Make no mistake, he has been one of the great players and still is if you ask me.
“He’s still got a lot to offer.”
I don’t know about you, but it feels as if I’ve grown up with Rooney. My first visit to Old Trafford – a 0-0 draw with Blackburn in 2004 – aligned with his first year at United, and since then I’ve witnessed the Englishman’s persona develop alongside mine.
His first six years were hallmarked by a tenacious, insatiable aura, a kind of bloodlust for ripping apart opponents; then, in 2010, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez out of the picture, Rooney’s role changed. He was now the talisman, the side’s reference point, and his raw aggression begun to fade. Then, following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, he became an indispensable asset, practically undroppable, despite going through the nadir of his career.
And now, as reflected in his performance against Fenerbahce, in which he divulged penalty responsibility to Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, another role has arrived: he is now United’s guardian spirit, largely peripheral to proceedings but there as a form of moral support, looking on as younger, stronger players take the club forward.
United fans will, no doubt, be curious to see how Rooney adapts to this new – and perhaps – role at Old Trafford.